Marc Simmons: Navajos weren't eager to accept Christian faith

"Beginning in the mid 1740s, Spaniards launched their first serious attempt to convert the "heathen" Navajos to Christianity. At that time, the Indians made their living by farming and raiding.

Back in 1630, Fray Alonso de Benavides, head of the Franciscan Order in New Mexico, had written a treatise on the missionary program, in which he first used the name Navajo for those Indians. Moreover, he identified them as agriculturists.

Some small effort was made during Benavides' day to convert the tribe, but it failed dismally. More than a century later, Franciscan missionaries tried once again.

By then the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 was becoming a dim memory, and the pueblos had settled into an uneasy acceptance of foreign rule. The church, therefore, decided to focus on converting the warlike tribes living on the edges of the New Mexican province."

Get the Story:
Marc Simmons: Trail Dust: Navajos resisted assimilation to Christianity (The Santa Fe New Mexican 10/15)

Related Stories:
Marc Simmons: John Collier motivated to protect Pueblo people (7/18)
Marc Simmons: Military attempted attack on Navajos in 1948 (6/27)
Marc Simmons: Religion played a role in war in New Mexico (6/13)
Marc Simmons: Pueblo burials mixed non-Native beliefs (5/31)
Marc Simmons: Zuni Pueblo often retreated to sacred site (5/23)
Marc Simmons: Spanish governor improved tribal relations (4/18)
Marc Simmons: How Pueblos stayed warm during Little Ice Age (4/4)
Marc Simmons: Spanish expedition came through many Pueblos (1/24)
Marc Simmons: Stories of capture among Apache in New Mexico (1/10)

Join the Conversation